Daughter Dear

Today’s blog entry is going to be about a subject that is dear to my heart: our oldest daughter Sarah.

The first wedding among our three children will take place when Sarah becomes a bride this summer. She and her fiance Axel will be married on August 3rd. At the present time, both of them are seniors at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls and will be graduating in just a few short weeks. They are both excited about the prospect of finally graduating and beginning their careers after what seemed to them like four long years at college.

Sarah and Axel met each other at the University while they were both sophomores. They became acquainted as friends and after a year or so, their casual friendship developed into a romantic relationship. Six months later, Axel proposed marriage to our daughter.

I’ll never forget the weekend when they came home to tell us about their engagement. Axel and Sarah arrived while I was still waiting for my husband Mike to return home after an errand. The four of us were dining out that evening.  While we were waiting on Mike’s return, I noticed that Sarah had a ring on her left ring finger, but it was turned so that the stone was on the inside of her hand, so I could only see a band. I asked her about the ring, and she made up some excuse about it being an old band that she’d always had and then quickly changed the subject. My mother’s intuition then told me that something was up. I had a sneaking suspicion what the kids were going to tell us.

When Mike returned home, Sarah said, “Before we go out to eat, let’s all sit down for a minute.” Then I knew I was right. “Mom and Dad,” she said, “we’re getting married.” A beautiful smile lit up her face as she held out her left hand, showing the small but lovely diamond ring that Axel had given to her. Poor Axel looked rather pale, but he had a smile on his face, too. He looked happy, though nervous. And for the first time ever, in the thirty-seven years I have known my husband, I saw tears fill his eyes. Even when his mother died, my husband did not cry. But when his daughter told him she was engaged, he looked like he was about to cry like a baby.

We’ve always been happy for Sarah and Axel. Axel loves Sarah and Sarah loves Axel. You can see it just by the way they look at each other. We know that Axel would do anything for our daughter, even die for her if he had to. And that’s what true love is. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. They’re meant for each other. We know they’ll be happy together.

But . . . I wasn’t happy during the Christmas holidays when Axel came to stay at our home. And I will admit that it’s entirely selfish on my part. Let me explain.

He and Sarah began the process of applying for jobs, which is a good thing. It’s the responsible thing to do. And I was happy that they were doing the responsible thing . . . until I found out that they were applying for jobs out of state—on purpose. They were talking about applying for jobs in Vermont and New York and Boston. We live in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. When I asked Sarah why they were applying for jobs so far away, she stated that they wanted to get away and “see the world.” “But what about your family?” I asked. She never did give me an answer.

I was puzzled and hurt. Empty nest syndrome—I know. I guess I just never imagined that any of my children would want to move so far away from their family. My husband and I never wanted to do that; we had always felt that family was so important and wanted to be near our family. I guess I couldn’t understand why she didn’t feel the same. But eventually I had to let go of it. I decided that whatever made her happy would make me happy, and I became resolved to the idea.

Then one night last week she called me. It was approximately nine o’clock in the evening when the phone rang. I remember because Mike had just returned home from working his part-time job at Target. This is how the conversation went:

Me:  “Hello.”

Sarah: “Hello, Mother.” (Sarah always calls me Mother in a formal way when she phones—it’s our private joke)

Me: “Hello, Daughter.” (And I reply by calling her Daughter in a formal way when she phones)

Sarah:  “What are you  doing?”

Me:  “Just watching some T.V. I thought you’d be sleeping by now. Don’t you have to get up early to go to work in the morning?”

Sarah:  “Yes, but I needed to call you first.”

Me:  “Why? What earth-shaking news do you have to tell me now?”

Sarah:  “Oh, Mom, you know me too well.” (She laughed) “You’re right, I do have something to tell you.”

Me:  “I knew it!” (I sat up straighter in my chair) “Well, what is it?”

Sarah:  “You’re gonna love it!” (She said this teasingly)

Me:  “C’mon, now. Don’t keep your poor mother in suspense.” (I pleaded)

Sarah:  “Okay, I’ll tell you. Axel and I’ve been discussing it, and we’ve decided to narrow our job search to the Twin Cities. We’re not going to move out of state anymore.”

Me:  “Oh, Annie-Girl!” (This is my special nickname for Sarah—her middle name is Ann) “I’m so glad!” (Tears filled my eyes with this unexpected good news).

Sarah:  “I knew you would be.”

Me:  “What made you change your minds?” (Naturally, I was curious, like any mother would be, of course!)

Sarah:  “Well, Axel has a lot more contacts in the Twin Cites than anywhere else, and so do I, so our chances of getting jobs there are better. Besides that, we really do need to be close to our families because family support is important. (She paused)  You know I love you, Mom.”

Me:  “I love you, too, Sweetie.”

Those words made my heart sing. The knowledge that even though my daughter would soon be a wife, she would still be nearby, was music to my ears. I know, I know, I know—empty nest syndrome—I’ve got it bad. But what is the cure?

Maybe when I see her walking down the aisle on the arm of her father, I’ll finally realize that it’s time to let go—for good.  But maybe I shouldn’t let go all the way. What do you think?

At any rate,  we have the whole summer to get in those last mother-daughter moments that we need to get in before she gets married. And I’m going to cherish every moment.

QUOTE FOR THE DAY:  “A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart.”  ~ Author Unknown ~

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2 comments

  • It’s hard, but you have to let your kids go. if they are to truly fly and spread their wings they need to do it knowing they have your support, otherwise they could end up resenting you. Remember, some of the greatest gifts a parent can give their children are independence, confidence and courage. And we live in a global village. we are only a phone call, text, email or skype away from those we love.

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    • Thanks, Denny. I know you’re right, but it’s hard, isn’t it? You spend the first two decades of your child’s life protecting them and then you have to let them fly away to find their own nest, so to speak. Our daughter’s getting married on August 3rd, so I’ll have the whole summer to let go; I think I can do it . . .

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